Syracuse 30, Wake Forest 7 — What we learned

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AJ Long threw for 171 yards and rushed for this touchdown

Syracuse picked up its first conference win of the season with a 30-7 win over Wake Forest. Here are a few thoughts from the game:

True freshman duo impresses

True freshmen AJ Long and Steve Ishmael were at the center of Syracuse’s impressive win. Long, making his first collegiate start at quarterback, was impressive, throwing for 171 yards, while rushing for a touchdown. More importantly, he didn’t throw an interception, and Syracuse didn’t turn the ball over on the day. Long frequently targeted his fellow true freshman Ismael, who led the team with six receptions for 72 yards. “With some of the youth playing, across the board I was pleased with the effort,” Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer said. The best part is, SU fans will get to see plenty of these two in the years to come.

» Related: Can Syracuse football still make a bowl game?

So about Terrel Hunt…

If everything goes according to plan, Long should continue improving and developing. If he performed well in his first action against the No. 1 team in the country, there’s no reason to think he can’t keep this up. So let’s just say that Syracuse goes 2-2 while Hunt is out, which would leave Syracuse at 4-6, needing two wins against Pittsburgh and Boston College to become bowl eligible. Do you stick with the hot hand, and continue to have Long start? Or do you go back to Hunt, who was one of the primary reasons why Syracuse went 7-6 last season? My initial thought is that Syracuse has to play the person who gives it the best chance to win, and right now, that player is Long. Then again, Nov. 22 (when SU plays Pitt) is a long time away.

Defense shuts down Wake Forest

Okay, so the Demon Deacons aren’t exactly an offensive powerhouse (126th in the NCAA at 14.4 ppg), but the Syracuse defense did everything it needed to on Saturday. After a 91-yard touchdown drive on WF’s second drive of the game, the Deacons didn’t score again. The SU defense was stellar, returning a fumble and an interception for scores, while completely shutting down Wake’s rush, holding the Deacons to just 71 yards. “[I’m] obviously pleased with the way the defense played, creating two turnovers that turned into touchdowns,” Shafer said. “Very proud of the job the defensive kids have done. Coach [Defensive Coordinator Chuck] Bullough and the defensive staff [have done] a great job.”

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Wes Cheng

About Wes Cheng

Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also worked for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005. Follow him on Twitter @ChengWes.
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